Evander Kane has the chance to join some elite company if he can score his 30th goal this season. While a 30 goal season is a common occurrence, scoring 30 before a players 21st birthday is something that has been completed by only 14 players**.
Among the list a few players have accomplished the feat twice before turning 21. One of those players is well known to Jets fans in Dale Hawerchuk who had 45 and 40 goals in his first two years as a 19 and 20-year-old. Steve Yzerman (39, 30), Wayne Gretzky (51, 55), Brian Bellows (35, 41) and Sidney Crosby are the others who have scored 30 in a season twice before age 21.
Mike Modano managed to score 29 as a 20-year-old but couldn’t get the elusive 30th goal. It was two seasons later at 22 when he finally broke 30. Eric Lindros and Jaromir Jagr had seasons of 41 and 32 but both turned 21 before netting 30 on the year (27 and 21).
The next three games will determine if Evander Kane (who will turn 21 on August 2 this summer) is remembered in the Modano category or in the elite category.
Steven Stamkos scored 51 goals in the season he turned 21 on February 7, 2010 but he had already scored 32 goals by his birthday. The most recent player to achieve the feat is Carolina Hurricanes Jeff Skinner who did it as an 18-year-old rookie last season with 31 total.
Ilya Kovalchuk had 38 goals in the 2002-03 season as a 20-year-old with the Atlanta Thrashers. He is the only player in the current Jets franchise to achieve this mark.
Also on the list of 30 goal seasons before the age of 21 are: Mario Lemieux (43), Bryan Trottier (32), Pierre Turgeron (34), Jason Arnott (33), Pierre Larouche (31) and Rick Nash (41).
As interesting as the names on this list are it’s almost more so to note some names that are not. Most players looked at, broke the 30 goal plateau at age 21. Jarome Iginla has 11 straight seasons with 30+ goals but it took him until age 23 to break the mark. Mr. Hockey, Gordie Howe, was 21 when he eclipsed 30 in a season, so did the Golden Jet Bobby Hull. His son Brett Hull was 24 when he finally turned the trick.
Phil Esposito was 25, Guy Lafleur 23 and Maurice “the Rocket” Richard was 22. Mark Messier, Marcel Dionne, Mike Gartner and Luc Robitaille are just a few of the many that did it at 21. It should be noted that for many of these players they did accomplish this in their first or second season in the league as it was not common for 18 year olds to step into the NHL.
If Evander Kane can score number 30 in the final three games, it will put him in elite company to be sure, regardless if this is his third season in the league.
**List is of players known based on available sources. No complete lists could be found so data was collected manually by going through top 100 goal scorers and 30 goal scorers on seasons dating back to 1997. There are most likely a few other players that could be on this list and if any are known please comment below so we can update this list.